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Listen to ““LEGENDS AND LIES OF SASQUATCH: IS BIGFOOT REAL?” and 15 More Freaky True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: (Dark Archives episode with stories from September 12-13, 2018) *** A mother and daughter go camping with the Girl Scouts – but what they experienced was not part of the fun, age appropriate itinerary. (Terror at Girl Scout Camp) *** Kirk Anderson said that Joyce McKinney tied him to a bed for three days and raped him repeatedly. She said that wasn’t possible. (The Case of the Manacled Mormon) *** Those interested in the paranormal likely already have heard of black eyed kids, or shadow people – but one person came across a being that inhabited the body of a co-worker – and turned the face completely black. (Was It Real?) *** If you lived in Illinois in 1977, you might have looked to the skies to see something terrifying – as Illinois was under siege by winged weirdness in the form of giant feathered fowls. (Thunderbirds Over Illinois) *** A perimeter search revealed blood stains in the yard, and bloody prints on the nearby garage. What Happened to Evelyn Hartley? (The Babysitter Who Vanished) **** A woman searches in vain for important papers, and gets a little help from a deceased grandparent. (Grandpa’s Guns) *** Does a giant bipedal mammal unknown to science exist in the United States? (Legend of Sasquatch) *** Did a Nikola Tesla experiment cause the Tunguska Blast? (Tesla’s Death Ray) *** The U.S. State Department has evacuated even more Americans due to a sickness that is spreading when people hear strange sounds. What could be causing the noise? (Sickening Strange Sounds) *** Do the ghosts of doomed lovers haunt a jagged cliff in Hot Springs, North Carolina? (The Ghosts of Lovers Leap) *** We’ll take a look at Bhangarh Fort – one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of India. (Bhangarh Fort: The Most ‘Haunted’ Place In India) *** A lifelong medium comes across a smiling entity. (Smiling) *** People in in the southwest of the United States are reporting sightings of giant birds, monsterous batlike creatures, even winged humanoids. What are they seeing? (Bizarre Bird Monsters of the Rio Grande) *** Were a murderer’s actions driven by a mental disorder, was he feigning mental disability, or did he in fact make an evil pact with Satan himself? (Contract With The Devil) *** Jack the Ripper. Who was the man (or woman) behind history’s grisliest unsolved murders? (Six Chilling Theories About Jack The Ripper)
MENTIONED LINKS, EPISODES AND EVENTS…
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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Terror at Girl Scout Camp”: https://tinyurl.com/vsqfo99
“The Case of the Manacled Mormon” by Gina Dimuro: https://tinyurl.com/w9o8coy
“Thunderbirds Over Illinois” by Troy Taylor: https://tinyurl.com/sm4zvqd
“Was It Real” by Zaruje: https://tinyurl.com/rs7s2zw
“Legend of Sasquatch”: https://tinyurl.com/v3rokfm
“The Babysitter Who Vanished” by Gary Sweeney: https://tinyurl.com/qmez2p3
“Grandpa’s Guns” written by Amanda Rummel, submitted directly to WeirdDarkness.com
“Tesla’s Death Ray”: https://tinyurl.com/v7scbe7
“Six Chilling Theories About Jack The Ripper” by Jessica Ferri: https://tinyurl.com/r3e32vu
“Sickening Strange Sounds” by Micah Hanks: https://tinyurl.com/uy5tfjb
“Smiling” by Rachael West, submitted directly to WeirdDarkness.com
“The Ghosts of Lovers Leap”: https://tinyurl.com/tuvq3xn
“The Bizarre Bird Monsters of the Rio Grande” by Brent Swancer: https://tinyurl.com/varh42j
“Bhangarh Fort: The Most ‘Haunted’ Place In India”: https://tinyurl.com/tw4muoy
“A Contract With The Devil” by Robert Willhelm: https://tinyurl.com/ha7dhzh
Background music provided by EpidemicSound and AudioBlocks with paid license. Music by Shadows Symphony (http://bit.ly/2W6N1xJ), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ), and Nicolas Gasparini/Myuu (http://bit.ly/2LykK0g) is also often used with permission from the artists.
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I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use. If I somehow overlooked doing that for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I’ll rectify it the show notes as quickly as possible.
***WeirdDarkness™ – is a trademark and creation of of Marlar House Productions. Copyright © Marlar House Productions, 2019.
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46 *** How to escape eternal darkness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IYmodFKDaM
There have been Sasquatch sightings for centuries in North America, with thousands of people claiming to have seen Bigfoot-like creatures, usually in sparsely populated areas of the country.
Mainstream science dismisses all of these as either misidentification, for example, brown bears or as deliberate hoaxes. But could so many people really not trust their own eyes?
Eyewitnesses evidence is notoriously unreliable and fakery and hoax have plagued serious studies of Bigfoot for years. Nethertheless there remains a significant number of eyewitness accounts that cannot easily be dismissed.
Reliable witnesses such as policeman, forest rangers and medical professionals have all given detailed and convincing eyewitness statements.
One US Forest Service Office, an experienced outdoorsman, observed a large, jet black creature on a beach in Oregon in 1995, and later took several photographs of the oversized footprints it left in the sand.
This account and the physical evidence to back it up is compelling, and not difficult to explain as a misidentification or a hoax. And it’s not the only one that defies obvious explanation.
Other solid sightings by trained professionals are equally well documented, but many authoritative observers fear coming forward in case they risk their jobs and reputations. This leaves the study of Bigfoot replete with too many anonymous statements which are difficult or impossible to verify.
A 16mm film taken by Roger Patterson and Roger Gimlin in 1967 remains the best known and most credible of all Bigfoot films.
Allegedly showing a female Bigfoot crossing a clearing in Bluff Creek California, the Patterson-Gimlin film has been subject to fierce debate ever since over its veracity.
Attempts to definitely debunk or authenticate the film have proven fruitless and the filmmakers have consistently rejected any claim that they hoaxed the footage by filming a man in a suit.
Those who know Patterson personally think it unlikely he faked the encounter, and he has no history of such behavior. That he himself was subject to a hoax is also a possibility.
Numerous casts and photographs have appeared over the years purporting to show Bigfoot footprints.
Renowned primatologist John Napier was one of the first experts to treat the prints seriously. He studied hundreds of casts and photographs and interviewed witnesses and amateur investigators.
Whilst Napier’s research was inconclusive he didn’t entirely dismiss the idea that Bigfoot could be a real creature.
However, with no real Bigfoot tracks to compare against, the prints are impossible to authenticate and with fraud widespread, they remain inconclusive either way.
Whilst man has hunted evidence of Bigfoot for decades, in all of that time, not a single verifiable Bigfoot skeleton, bone or carcass has ever been found.
Numerous examples of alleged Bigfoot hair and blood have been found, but they invariably turn out to be either hair from other known animals or of inconclusive origin.
It seems incredibly unlikely that no physical evidence has ever been found for a creature that, if real, must exist in large enough number to have sustained itself for centuries.
If one thing more than anything has damaged Bigfoot research as a serious discipline its the sheer number hoaxes that have plagued the field. Fakery and fraud are rife, often cheerfully admitted by the perpetrators.
It is not a new phenomenon — Rant Mullens revealed in 1982 that he and his friends had carved giant Bigfoot tracks and used them to fake footprints as far back as 1930.
The most notorious modern fraudsters are Ray Wallace, who claimed to have faked hundreds of Bigfoot tracks and Rick Dyer, who announced to the world in 2008 that he had captured a Bigfoot corpse only for it to turn out to be a Halloween costume stuffed with roadkill and entrails.
Considering the large number of sightings and the modern ubiquity of camera phones, there remain few credible films or photographs that have clearly captured a creature that may be Bigfoot.
In fact, aside from the Patterson film, most films supposedly showing bigfoot creatures are extremely poor quality, blurry and entirely inconclusive.
Several photographs and films purportedly showing dead bigfoot bodies have also surfaced over the years but invariably turn out to be, often somewhat obvious, fakes.
WAS IT REAL?
My mind can’t stop debating over this experience of mine, if this falls under the paranormal category or just another episode of my mind going crazy.
You see prior to this experience, I had a couple of traumatic incidents that completely changed my mentality. My parents, who are completely aware of this, suggested that I should see a specialist but right away I told them “I don’t need a doctor” (because I’m not crazy) and I’m nowhere near suicidal. So on to my story.
It was a normal Friday morning. I went to work as usual, doing this and that just to keep myself busy, when our cashier approached and updated me about the checks to be released. I told her that I’m going to pass her message to the person who is really in charge for that. Let’s just name the person in charge as “J”.
I went to J’s table. I stood there looking at her for about 5 seconds and I swear her face was as black as the night. I’m not talking about dim light black, but black as black. This might sound comedic if her skin is really black, but it’s not. You can compare her skin tone to that of a Korean or Japanese. She’s not the “morena” type which most Filipinas are.
Five seconds might be short, but for me that’s long enough to realize that I’m talking to a different person, perhaps a different entity. One thing’s for sure, that’s not her. I felt this kind of fear inside my gut but still, I relay to her our cashier’s message. I return to my table with my brain clouded with fear, confussion and survival instinct that that entity is out to get me.
That day ended with calming myself not to do anything about it. To ignore it. Up until now, I’m still disturbed about it. I never told J about this. I know in myself that I’m not crazy and I know what I saw.
I decided to share this hoping that in this way, I could get over with the experience. Thanks for reading my story.
One autumn day in 1977, the police in Devon, England got an unusual call for help. A young member of the Mormon Church claimed that he had just been imprisoned and raped by a woman for three days, chained to a bed and forced to try to impregnate her. He claimed that he’d only managed to escape after promising to marry his captor, at which point she unchained him and he fled. Newspapers throughout the country quickly seized upon the lurid story and soon headlines about the “manacled Mormon” were sweeping across England.
The Mormon missionary, a 21-year-old American named Kirk Anderson, claimed that his abductor had literally put a gun to his head and forced him into a car. He then claimed that she drove him to a small cottage in Devon, where he was chained “spread-eagled” to a bed and raped over the course of three days. He later stated in court, “I didn’t wish it to happen. I was extremely depressed and upset after being forced to have sex.”
But the alleged captor, another American named Joyce McKinney, told a different story — and the truth at the heart of the “manacled Mormon” case remains a subject of lurid fascination to this day.
After Kirk Anderson contacted the police, they apprehended 28-year-old Joyce McKinney along with her alleged accomplice, 24-year-old Keith May (who was claimed to have participated in the initial kidnapping of Anderson). But McKinney quickly conveyed to police a much different version of events than the one that Anderson had given.
McKinney had met and briefly dated Anderson while living in Utah. The former Miss Wyoming claimed that Anderson had wanted to marry her, but his church had not approved because she was not a Mormon, at which point he left without a trace. After hiring a private investigator to track her lost lover down, she set off for England to rescue him from the church, what she claimed was a cult that had brainwashed him.
McKinney claimed that when she made contact with Anderson on Sept. 14 in Ewell, Surrey, he willingly got into her car and then engaged in sexual activities with her of his own volition (although she claimed that he was “impotent” at first and broke off intercourse to begin chanting a prayer). It was only after she tied him up consensually, she claimed, that he was able to overcome his religious reservations.
And for Joyce McKinney, it wasn’t just about sex, but also about love. In court, McKinney later stated that she loved Anderson so much “that I would have skied down Mount Everest in the nude with a carnation up my nose if he asked me to.”
Whatever the truth of the matter in terms of what happened between McKinney and Anderson during the three days in question (which may never be fully known), there can be no doubt that it was a tabloid goldmine.
The recent documentary Tabloid from director Errol Morris reviews the case of the manacled Mormon through the lens of the people who lived it, as well as the journalists who covered the ensuing trial. The two sides of the case were taken up by two major British tabloids, with The Daily Express supporting McKinney and The Daily Mail trying to portray her “as a voracious, dangerous sexual predator.”
As even the journalists interviewed for Tabloid admit, the real story of the “manacled Mormon” scandal probably lies somewhere in the middle of the two versions. Kirk Anderson and Joyce McKinney had definitely been involved romantically while living in Utah, although whether he’d actually intended to marry her is another question. Nevertheless, there can be little argument that McKinney’s love for Anderson, no matter how pure in origin, was obsessive.
In addition to asserting her love for Anderson, McKinney also stated that she believed that it was impossible for a woman to rape a man, stating that “it’s like trying to put a marshmallow into a parking meter.”
Nevertheless, a 2017 report analyzing data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics concluded that the actual case reports “contradict the common belief that female sexual perpetration is rare.” One study quoted in the report found that 43 percent of the 284 college and high school males interviewed stated they had been “sexually coerced” and that 95 percent of the incidents had been perpetrated by females.
However, in the U.K. at the time of the manacled Mormon case, charges of rape could not be brought against a woman when the alleged victim was a man.
So, although arrested and briefly held in jail on kidnapping and assault charges (along with Keith May), Joyce McKinney was never charged with the rape of Kirk Anderson. In any event, she jumped bail and returned to the United States, and British authorities never sought her extradition. With that, the manacled Mormon case came to an inconclusive end.
But in 1984, the case popped up again after McKinney was arrested after being found near Anderson’s workplace in Salt Lake City, allegedly with rope and handcuffs in her car (McKinney claims she simply happened to be passing through the airport where he was working).
McKinney briefly reappeared in headlines again in 2008, for different reasons altogether, after becoming the owner of the world’s first cloned puppies. A laboratory in Seoul, South Korea had cloned McKinney’s beloved pet Booger for her. Amid the ensuing publicity, a newspaper identified her as the woman from the Kirk Anderson case decades earlier. When asked if she was the same Joyce Mckinney of “Manacled Mormon fame,” she supposedly snapped, “Are you going to ask me about my dogs or not? Because that’s all I’m prepared to talk to you about.”
Even after all these years, we may never know the truth about the manacled Mormon.
Along the bank of the Mississippi River in southwest Wisconsin lies the city of La Crosse. It’s a charming community, and regularly ranks as one of Wisconsin’s most desirable places to live. But its pleasant reputation was marred on October 24, 1953. On this night, 15-year-old Evelyn Grace Hartley went on a babysitting job and was never seen again.
Evelyn Hartley was a sophomore at Central High School. Her father, Richard Hartley, was a Biology professor at La Crosse State College; her mother, Ethel, was a homemaker. On that fateful evening, Evelyn left for the home of another college professor, Viggo Rasmusen, in order to watch the Rasmusens’ 20-month-old baby. She was wearing red jeans, a white blouse, glasses, and white bobby socks.
Evelyn typically called her parents to check in during her babysitting gigs. When some time had passed without word, Richard Hartley called the Rasmusen home, but received no answer. Worried, he drove to the residence. Hartley found the house locked, and knocked repeatedly on the front door. Again he received no response. After a few minutes, he discovered an open basement window, through which he entered the house.
To his shock, nobody was there except the baby, sleeping soundly in an upstairs room.
Hartley immediately called the police. Upon arriving, authorities searched the home; they discovered one of Evelyn’s shoes, as well as her broken glasses. Her other shoe was found in a different part of the house. Blood was also found inside. A perimeter search revealed additional blood stains in the yard, and bloody prints on the nearby garage. Bloodhounds were brought in to follow the scent, which they traced to the street. This, police theorized, was proof that Evelyn must have been put into a car and driven away.
A massive search commenced. Volunteers combed the town on foot, while the National Guard, Civic Air Patrol, and Air Force scanned the area from overhead. Boaters took to the waterways in hopes of uncovering clues. Numerous college and high school students joined the effort, and within the first few days, over 2,000 people were looking for Evelyn Hartley.
Police asked squirrel and deer hunters to stay alert while out in the field, and farmers were told to explore their land for any freshly turned earth. In an effort to leave no stone unturned, even fresh graves were dug up to ensure Evelyn’s body had not been buried in secret.
To take matters further, authorities announced that all cars would be checked. The goal was to have the back seat and trunk of every car in the county inspected for blood stains or any other suspicious signs. 40,000 stickers were printed, each reading “MY CAR IS OK.” Authorities would place a sticker on every car that had been checked and cleared.
Police Chief George Long ordered all gas station attendants to report any suspicious vehicles, as well as the license number of any driver that refused the mandatory search. Police officers were also instructed to immediately check any car without an “OK” sticker.
Richard and Ethel Hartley made several public pleas for information. They addressed Evelyn’s presumed abductor, and begged for answers.
A short time later, the Hartleys received two phone calls in which a man offered to trade information about Evelyn for $500 cash. Police assisted the Hartleys in setting a trap for the caller. The snare was a success, and resulted in the capture of a 20-year-old man named Jack Duffrin. As it happened, Duffrin knew nothing about Evelyn. He was convicted and imprisoned for attempted extortion.
A number of local businesses, organizations, and neighbors pooled their money to establish a reward fund for any tips that might lead to Evelyn’s return. The fund soon swelled to $6,600. Hundreds of tips flooded the police station. Each tip was investigated, and promptly dismissed. Nobody, it seemed, knew anything.
A year after Evelyn’s disappearance, Sheriff Robert Scullin estimated that his department had questioned approximately 1,200 people. Detective Captain Leo Kihm, who spearheaded the initial investigation, placed that number around 3,500. Despite their efforts, no new leads surfaced.
The case eventually fell into the hands of A.M. Josephson, a criminal investigator from La Crosse County. Josephson would pursue the case for years, paying particular attention to two intriguing items found during the first few weeks of the investigation.
The first clue was a pair of tennis shoes discovered near off Highway 14, some 10 miles southeast of La Crosse near Shelby, Wisconsin. The tread on the bottom of the shoes produced a distinct pattern if pressed into the mud. Indeed, a chunk of dirt had been found on the Rasmusens’ living room floor that detectives believed matched the shoe tread. The same pattern was also found in footprints outside of the Rasmusen house. The second clue was a blood-stained denim jacket, which was recovered within 800 feet of the tennis shoes. Josephson believed this too was connected to the crime.
While inspecting the shoes, Josephson found yet another lead. He determined that the soles exhibited a distinct wear pattern consistent with operating a Whizzer motorbike. Over the next few months, Josephson poured over sales records and receipts and even tracked down past and present owners of Whizzer motorbikes, but never found any worthwhile suspects.
The jacket and shoes were put on display throughout the region, with a plea for information from anyone who might recognize them. Again, calls and potential leads flooded the police station. Once again, nothing useful materialized.
In the end, the shoes and blood-stained jacket fell out of favor with most investigators, who no longer considered the items significant. While the tennis shoes were a large size 11, the jacket was in fact a small size 36, leading many to conclude the two were unconnected. Josephson, however, refused to give up; he viewed the size discrepancy as proof that two suspects had taken Evelyn.
The investigator continued his search. Alas, his efforts ultimately led nowhere.
The Hartley case received an unexpected jolt in 1957, courtesy of Ed Gein. Gein—a killer and bodysnatcher who confessed to murdering two women and fashioning trophies out of human body parts—was briefly considered a suspect in the disappearance, as he had been visiting relatives in the La Crosse area at the time of Evelyn’s vanishing. However, upon searching Gein’s property, none of Evelyn’s remains were discovered. Gein also passed two lie detector tests during which he insisted he had nothing to do with the case. Authorities officially declared that Gein was in no way connected to Evelyn Hartley. Some, however, continued to suspect his involvement.
Years went by without an answer. By 1959, the last remaining efforts fizzled out, and the Evelyn Hartley case went cold.
In the ensuing years, numerous individuals came forward and confessed to the crime; all confessions were investigated and dismissed as false. In 1971, a 51-year-old transient named Tommy Thompson was arrested in Casper, Wyoming for passing bad checks. While in custody, Thompson told police of a rape and slaying he had committed in 1953, naming Evelyn Hartley as his victim. Authorities checked Thompson’s claims and found that he had been in a Minnesota prison at the time of Evelyn’s disappearance.
On October 22, 1978, 25 years after Evelyn vanished, the La Crosse Tribune ran a piece on Richard and Ethel Hartley. In it, the Hartleys admitted to giving up hope of ever finding out what happened to their daughter. They further commented that they no longer cared to read about it. Viggo Rasmusen was also interviewed, and claimed to be haunted by visions of what may have happened in his home that night.
To this day, Evelyn’s disappearance remains unsolved.
It is coming up on the year anniversary when my grandfather passed away. I was at my grandma’s house and helping her sort through papers. I was looking for the registrations for my grandfather’s guns (He had enough at the people on the walking dead would think it was Christmas) so I could take some down to a gun dealer and sell some of the ones that my uncle and cousins did not want. I could not find the registrations to save my life. This man was organized, and everything had its place, the problem is the place could only make sense to him. I finally got frustrated enough to say out loud “you planned for everything but your own death Pappy, maybe give me a dang hand.” A picture of my dad and uncle fell down instantly. Under the Picture was a box, when I opened it, all the registrations were in it. The old man is still looking out for us. – Amanda Rummel
THUNDERBIRDS OVER ILLINOIS!
Under Siege by Winged Weirdness in 1977!
In July 1977, the people of Illinois were keeping all eyes on the sky because something very weird was happening up there. According to scores of eyewitnesses, there were giant birds in the air over the prairie state, seemingly appearing and disappearing at will and, in one terrifying case, even attempting to carry off a small boy!
It happened on July 25 in the small town of Lawndale when two giant birds appeared in the sky over the community. It was a warm, humid evening and three boys were playing hide and seek in the backyard of Ruth and Jake Lowe. The boys –Travis Goodwin, Michael Thompson and 10-year-old Marlon Lowe — were in the yard at about 8:30 p.m. when the two birds approached them from the south. Marlon Lowe later told newspapers that the three boys first saw the birds swoop toward Travis Goodwin, who ran away and jumped into a small, plastic swimming pool that was in the yard. The birds then swerved and headed toward Marlon. One of the birds grasped the boy’s sleeveless shirt, snagging its talons into the cloth. The boy tried in vain to fight the bird off, and then cried loudly for help.
The cries from all three boys brought Marlon’s mother, as well as Jake Lowe and Betty and Jim Daniels, two friends from nearby Lincoln, Illinois. They had been cleaning a camper that was parked in the driveway and came running to see what was wrong. As Marlon screamed for his mother, Mrs. Lowe appeared in time to see the bird actually lift the child from the ground and into the air. She screamed but the bird may not have released him if Marlon had not hammered at it with his fists. The bird had carried him, at a height of about three feet, for a distance of about 35 feet by the time Mrs. Lowe had reached the backyard. The bird dropped him and, although scratched and badly frightened, Marlon was not seriously injured.
The birds just cleared the top of the camper, went under some telephone lines, and flew off. According to all of the witnesses, they were black, with bands of white around their necks. They had long, curved beaks and a wingspan of at least ten feet. The two birds were last seen flying toward some trees near Kickapoo Creek. Mrs. Lowe called the police and a game warden, worried about other children in the area. Deputies from the Logan County Sheriff’s Department searched the area around the creek on July 25 and 26 but found no evidence of the birds.
A game warden later tried to convince Ruth Lowe that the birds had been turkey vultures, but she didn’t believe it. She spent hours looking at photos of large birds and finally settled on something that looked like a California Condor, “except bigger.” At that time, though, California Condors were nearly extinct and could be found only in the deserts of Southern California – not in Illinois. In addition, their appearance did not match the Lawndale birds, nor did their size – and they certainly couldn’t pick up a child. Many wondered if they had been “known birds” at all.
In the days that followed, the Lowe family was mercilessly harassed by wildlife officials and newspaper reporters, who insisted that the attack could not have happened. But not all of the media outlets, or the general public, were so skeptical. Many newspapers picked up the story in the days following the attack and continued to update readers over the next few months as the two birds – or at least two that looked an awful lot like them — continued their journey across Illinois.
Three days after the attack, on July 28, Janet Brandt of Armington was driving home on the road between Minier and Armington when she spotted a bird that was larger than the hood of her car. It was at about 5:30 p.m. and she saw it flying from east to west in the late afternoon light. She only saw it for a few moments, flying about thirty feet off the ground, but she did notice that it seemed to have a ring of white around its neck.
Later that same day, at around 8:00 p.m., a McLean County farmer named Stanley Thompson saw a bird of the same size and description flying over his farm. He, his wife, and several friends were watching radio-controlled airplanes when the bird flew close to the models. He claimed the bird had a wingspan of at least 10 feet. It dwarfed the small planes that buzzed close to it. He later told McLean County Sheriff’s Sergeant Robert Boyd that the bird had about a six-foot body and easily a wingspan of nine feet. Boyd commented that Thompson was a “credible witness.” He had lived in the area for a long time and had no reason to make up stories. He questioned the original reports that came in, but after speaking with Thompson, he had decided to investigate.
On July 28, Lisa Montgomery of Tremont was washing her car when she looked up and saw a giant bird crossing the sky overhead, soaring slowly over a nearby cornfield. She estimated that it had a seven-foot wingspan and was black with a low tail. She said that it disappeared into the sky towards Pekin.
The next sighting took place near Bloomington on July 29 when a mail truck driver named James Majors spotted two giant birds. He was driving from Armington to Delevan at 5:30 a.m. when he saw them alongside of the highway. He was just passing by a Hampshire hog farm when he spotted the birds overhead. One of the creatures dropped down into a field and extended its claws more than two feet from its body. Suddenly, it snatched up a small animal that Majors believed was a baby pig, which he guessed weighed between 40 and 60 pounds. Both birds flew away to the north. Majors quickly drove to the next town and then jumped out of the truck and chain-smoked four cigarettes to regain his composure.
At 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 30, Dennis Turner and several friends from Downs, Illinois, reported a monstrous bird perched on a telephone pole. Turner claimed that the bird dropped something near the base of the pole. When police officers investigated the sighting, they found a huge rat near the spot. Several residents of Waynesville reported seeing a black bird with an eight-foot wingspan later on that same day.
Reports of giant birds continued to come in from Bloomington and the north-central Illinois area, then from farther south, from Decatur to Macon and Sullivan. On July 31, Mrs. Albert Dunham of rural Bloomington was on the second floor of her house when she noticed a large, dark shadow passing by her window. She quickly realized that it was a giant bird and got a good look at it. Her description was almost identical to others reported at the same time, including the white ring around its neck. Her son chased the bird to a nearby landfill, but it had vanished before a local newspaper photographer could get a photo of it.
On August 11, John and Wanda Chappell saw a giant bird land in a tree near their home in Odin, Illinois. According to the witnesses, it was gray-black in color with about a twelve-foot wingspan. John Chappell stated that it looked like a “prehistoric bird” and that it was likely big enough to have carried away his small daughter if it had wanted to. The huge bird had circled above the Chappell’s pond before coming to rest in the tree. It stayed in the tree for a few minutes and then flew off without a sound toward Raccoon Lake and the town of Centralia. Wanda Chappell said that she and her husband almost didn’t report the sighting because they were afraid that people would think they were crazy.
On August 15, 1977, a witness who lived near Herrick reported seeing two giant birds in a section of forest outside of town. He estimated the wingspans of the creatures to have been at least 10 feet. He followed their flight path to an abandoned barn at the edge of a field where they landed for about five minutes. After that, they vanished into the sky towards Taylorville.
On August 20, Paul Harrold reported seeing a giant bird in the sky near Fairfield. He said that the bird landed in a field not far from his car and remained there for a few moments before flying off again. According to his report, its wingspan was at least twelve feet in width. Harrold also stated that he was sure the bird was no vulture or buzzard, which are common in Illinois. Having lived out West for several years, he was familiar with large birds but said that he had never seen anything this big. After that, the 1977 Illinois thunderbird sightings came to an end.
So, what were these creatures? Some will try and convince you that the giant birds were nothing more than turkey vultures or condors. In many cases, though, the birds were spotted by people who would have recognized these commonly-known birds. But even if they had never seen one of those types of birds, the descriptions they gave would have only dismissed a small percentage of the anomalous reports. Some researchers believe that the reported Thunderbirds might be “Teratorns,” from the Greek “monster bird,” a supposedly extinct bird of prey that once roamed North and South America. If these prehistoric survivors somehow survived into the modern era, they could certainly account for the reports of the giant birds.
We have to be puzzled as we read such tales and wonder about the validity of the strange sightings, for the reports certainly did not end in 1977. Are these mysterious flying creatures actually real? Do they fill the skies of anything other than our imaginations? If so, then what have so many people seen over the years? At this point, such creatures remain a mystery but one thing is sure: the sightings have continued over the years, and occasionally an unusual report still trickles in from somewhere across the country. So keep that in mind the next time that you are standing in an open field and a large, dark shadow suddenly fills the sky overhead. Was that just a cloud passing in front of the sun – or something else?
GIRL SCOUT CAMP
“Last summer, my daughter and I spent the weekend at a local Girl Scout camp. I don’t want to name the camp and damage its reputation, but something seriously spooky happened to us there.
This camp is in the Southeast, in a heavily wooded area near the mountains. It’s a beautiful place, complete with a waterfall, pond, and scenic hiking trails. We’d gone there every year for an annual mother-daughter retreat, and before last summer, we’d never had any problems.
The night of the incident, we made s’mores and sang silly songs around the campfire. Around 9:30, everyone headed to their cabins for bed. Because of a no-show, my daughter and I had our own cabin near the pond. There was no AC, so the cabin was pretty stuffy and uncomfortable. My daughter fell asleep immediately, but I tossed and turned, trying not to think about the heat.
Outside, I could hear frogs trilling by the pond and the occasional gust of wind. Around midnight (I know the time because I had just looked at my phone), the frog sounds abruptly stopped as if someone had flipped a switch. I thought it was odd, but didn’t think anything of it. Then I heard an odd rumbling in the sky.
It sounded like an airplane flying high over ahead, but the sound just went on and on, echoing through the hills. I don’t know why, but the noise made me extremely uneasy. I tried covering my head with a pillow and convincing myself it was just a plane, but I somehow knew that wasn’t right.
After about ten minutes, the airplane droning sound stopped as abruptly as the frogs had. At that moment, it was dead silent. I felt like my daughter and I were the only people for thousands of miles. Until someone started pounding on the cabin door.
BAM! BAM! BAM! My heart started racing so fast I thought I might have a heart attack. My daughter woke up screaming and crying. As I rushed up to the top bunk, the pounding started again.
“Who’s there?” I yelled.
There was no answer, so I yelled out the question again. Nothing.
At this point, my daughter was totally freaking out, and I wasn’t far behind. I wanted desperately to turn on the lights, but the switch was right by the door, and if whoever was outside tried to come in, I’d be within easy reach. I couldn’t help but think of the Oklahoma Girl Scout camp murders. Worse, I couldn’t call anyone because there was no signal in the camp.
After what felt like an eternity, I climbed back down from the top bunk, ran over to the switch, and turned on the lights. Once my eyes had adjusted to the glare, I noticed a weird green haze in the cabin. I hoped if I was imagining things, but then my daughter asked why there was smoke in the air.
I wish I could say I summoned the courage to open the door, or even look out the window, but I didn’t. My daughter and I sat up all night with the lights on, confused and terrified. No one pounded on the door again. The haze faded away. And the frogs resumed their trilling.
Eventually, morning came and we left the cabin when we heard other campers walking around outside. I asked one or two of them if they’d heard anything weird in the night, but they all said no. After that, my daughter and I quickly packed up the car and left. I told the counselors we had to leave because she was sick.
I have no idea what to make of any of it. The sounds. The pounding. The haze. All I know, is that my daughter and I are never going back to the camp again.”
JACK THE RIPPER
While it’s far too late to bring the Ripper to justice, here are a few of the most compelling Jack the Ripper theories, from a member of the royal family to a well-respected English painter. Perhaps he or she can finally be brought to justice—in spirit—if this case is ever solved.
1. The Royal: Prince Albert Victor = Even the royal family is not above suspicion. Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert, suffered from syphilis. His sexual proclivities and rumored patronage of prostitutes placed him in the vicinity of the crimes and victims. In 1970, a British physician claimed that syphilis-induced insanity could have driven Prince Albert to commit murder. Others have argued that his status as a royal aided in a massive cover-up, and explains why the Ripper was never identified.
2. The Physician: Sir William Gull = The nature of the murders indicated that the perpetrator had medical knowledge, someone like a surgeon or a coroner. The motive, claimed by movies like 2001’s From Hell, is that Queen Victoria wanted Prince Albert’s secret marriage with a former prostitute suppressed, so she ordered the royal family’s physician Sir William Gull to enact a murderous rampage through Whitechapel. Gull then sent a letter to police penned in an illegible scrawl, now known as the “From Hell” letter, to throw authorities off his track.
3. The Painter: Walter Sickert = In one of the more intriguing theories, Patricia Cornwell, in her 2002 book Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper—Case Closed, argues that painter Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper. She points to possible clues in the artist’s own paintings, many of which seem to mirror the Ripper’s crime scenes. In one painting, a woman is stretched across a bed, echoing the position of final Ripper victim Mary Jane Kelly. Another depicts a well-dressed man at the foot of a bed with his head hung and hands clasped, while a naked woman lies rigidly behind him, her face turned in shadow. Sickert himself made no secret of his fascination with the Ripper case, going so far as to dub one of his paintings “Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom”. Still, skeptics counter that the similarities are mere coincidence, noting that the most ominous Sickert painting people point to is actually related to the infamous Camden Murder of 1907. Undeterred, Cornwell sought to further prove her theory. She analyzed a series of letters sent to Scotland Yard that many believe had been penned by the Ripper. Cornwell compared the artifacts to Sickert’s own writing paper. The two reams bore the same rare watermark, which was made by Sickert’s father. “If a jury had seen that,” Cornwell said, “they would have said, ‘hang him.’”
4. The Merchant: James Maybrick = Three years before the Ripper murders occurred, a rash of eerily similar serial murders, this time of servant girls, took place in Austin, Texas. Dubbed “The Servant Girl Annihilator,” the murderer was never brought to justice. In her book Jack the Ripper: The American Connection, Shirley Harrison argues that the Austin killer and Jack the Ripper are one in the same. She purports to have evidence that her suspect, a cotton merchant named James Maybrick, was in Austin and London at the time of both crimes.
5. The Surgeon: Sir John Williams = Yet another deadly doctor theory posits that the Ripper was Sir John Williams, Queen Victoria’s royal surgeon. Much of the case stems from The Fifth Victim by Antonia Alexander, a writer who claims to be the great-great-great granddaughter of Ripper victim Mary Jane Kelly. Alexander’s investigation began after she found a locket of Reilly’s containing what seems to be a photo of Sir John—proof that the two were close, and possibly secret lovers. Sir Williams specialized in obstetric surgery, and believers of the theory assert that he butchered the women of Whitechapel to inspect their reproductive organs in hopes of curing his wife Lizzie Williams’ infertility.
6. The Woman: Lizzie Williams = hen again, perhaps Jack the Ripper was actually a Jill. Some have proposed that the real reason the Ripper case went cold is that London police were looking for the wrong man. A retired lawyer has put forth the theory that Lizzie Williams, the wife of aforementioned Ripper suspect Sir John Williams, was driven to murdering prostitutes out of sheer rage and jealousy. Three of the Ripper victims had their reproductive organs torn from their bodies. As stated in the Sir Williams theory, Lizzie was infertile.
The Royal, the Physician, the Painter, the Merchant, The Surgeon… the Woman. We will likely never know the true identity of Jack the Ripper.
CONTRACT WITH THE DEVIL
On April 16, 1897, cashier Joseph A. Stickney was murdered during a daring daylight robbery of the Great Falls National Bank in Somersworth, New Hampshire. The frenzied investigation that followed, crossed state and national borders resulting in the arrests of Joseph Kelley, a resident of Somersworth with peculiar habits. Joseph E. Kelley confessed to the murder, leaving the court to decide whether his actions were driven by a mental disorder, whether he was feigning mental disability, or whether Kelley had in fact made a contract with the devil.
Twenty-four year old Joseph Kelly lived in a room in a Somersworth, New Hampshire boarding house, across the street from the Great Falls National Bank. Every day he would watch through the bank window as the elderly clerk, Joseph A. Stickney counted piles of greenbacks, gold and silver. Kelley, who was in debt and in desperate need of money, began to imagine how easy it would be to walk into the bank and take the cash. The image became irresistible and Kelley devised a simple plan to rob the bank.
On April 15, Kelley went into the bank wearing a false mustache and goatee, and carrying a revolver. The presence of a woman customer in the bank scared him off, but following day he once again donned the disguise and entered the bank when no other customers were there. Joseph Stickney, the cashier, knew Kelly, but the old man did not recognize him in the false beard. Kelley ordered some stamps from the cashier and when Stickney went in to the cashier’s room, Kelley followed him and shut the glass door behind him. When Stickney shouted for the police Kelly struck him on the head several times with a blackjack. Stickney fell to the floor and Kelley cut his throat with a razor.
Kelley quickly stuffed $4,125 in bills and coins into a pillow case he had brought with him. The door to the cashier’s room had locked when shut, so Kelley had to shatter the glass to get out. The bank was still empty and Kelley was able to leave unobserved. He returned to his boarding house, ate dinner, and paid his landlady twenty dollars that he owed. Kelley transferred the rest of the money into a suitcase then went to the train depot.
The body of Joseph Stickney lay undiscovered for over two hours. When police realized what had happened, Joseph Kelley was considered a suspect but they believed that he had accomplices. They also believed that he had returned to his home state of Massachusetts. Two men were arrested in Waltham, Massachusetts and held in connection with the Somersworth robbery until both proved to have alibis.
Joseph Kelley had grown up in the town of Amesbury, Massachusetts in a family of ten children, all described as “bright and smart.” His family told reporters that young Joe was a quiet orderly boy who was barely 10 years old when he began to turn wild. He had been involved in some petty thefts, such as bicycle stealing, and served about seven months in the Concord reformatory for breaking and entering. But those in Amesbury who knew him were surprised at the charge of murder and believed that if he was involved in the robbery it was as an accessory and not a principal.
Kelley had not gone to Massachusetts; he had taken a Boston & Maine train as far as Union, Maine. There he took the next train for Cookshire Junction, Quebec, where he boarded the Halifax Express and bought a ticket for Montreal.
When the Somersworth police realized that Kelley had travelled north, they traced his movement to the town of St. Justin De Newton, Quebec. There he had paid a hotelkeeper $10 in gold for a woman’s dress and left the hotel wearing the dress, saying that he wanted to surprise his wife who lived in Montreal. Kelly was found in a Montreal brothel, sitting between two prostitutes and still wearing the dress. If the disguise was meant to fool the police, it had not worked; Kelley was arrested by the Montreal Police and extradited back to Somersworth, New Hampshire to stand trial.
Joseph E. Kelley was tried November 8th, 1897 in Dover, New Hampshire and on the first day of the trial the jury was taken by train to Somersworth to see the murder site and Kelley’s room across the street. Kelley smiled throughout the proceedings both in Somersworth and Dover, and seemed to enjoy the attention he was getting.
Back in the Dover courtroom the prosecution presented witnesses who had seen Kelley the day of the murder or who had seen a man with a mustache carrying a pillow case. Railroad employees who had spoken to Kelley that day testified, as did the Quebec hotelkeeper who sold him the dress.
The cross-examinations of the Somersworth witnesses by the defense indicated that they might be seeking an insanity plea. Kelley was described as boyish; he wrote poetry and had tried several unusual money making schemes, such as selling artificial bouquets on the street and using a megaphone from the roof of a hotel to advertise businesses. On the fourth day of the trial it became official—when court opened that morning, Kelley stood up and said he was ready to plead guilty if his hanging could be scheduled for January 16, 1898. The reason for the date was that Kelley had a contract with the devil that would expire on January 15. The guilty plea was accepted, the jury was dismissed, and the remainder of the trial would consist of arguments relating to the degree of the crime.
The Kelley family and others from Amesbury were no longer speaking of Joe as “bright and smart” but said that his Amesbury nickname had been “Foolish Joe.” At age four Joe had fallen and a rusty nail had pierced his skull. He was unconscious for three days. Following that he had suffered from fits and convulsions as a child and sleepwalking as an adult.
Kelley was examined by several mental health experts who all agreed that he suffered from arrested development. Dr. Charles Bancroft of the New Hampshire State Asylum for the Insane concluded from Kelley’s history and from the eight examinations he made, that Kelley was incurable, saying:
“He is a child. I should place him about 8 or 9 years old, mentally and morally. He has the impulses and instincts of a man, but the judgment and capacity of a child of 9.”
Dr. Thomas Waterman, examining physician for the city of Boston concurred saying: “A high-grade imbecile expresses Kelley’s condition. He is far from being an idiot. A high-grade imbecile has all the impulses of a man but the judgment of a child.”
Several other medical experts agreed with their colleagues and all asserted that Kelley was incurable and would not benefit by being sent to an asylum.
When Kelley realized the import of his plea it was a great blow to his pride. He was especially hurt when poems he had written were read in court to illustrate his mental deficiencies. The Boston Daily Globe described Kelley’s reaction: “…but when he found out that his lawyers were deriding his poetry, making fun of his lectures and holding him up as a maniac, he wept in poignant grief, the first emotion he has shown since he has been charged with the crime…to have his lyrics termed doggerel and to be called a high grade imbecile was too much for the prisoner’s pride and he burst into violent weeping and covered his face with his handkerchief.”
The judges ruled Kelley insane, found him guilty of second degree murder and sentenced him to thirty years in the State Prison in Concord. When asked what would happen after his sentence expired the medical men agreed that Kelley was unlikely to live that long.
Kelley was indifferent to his sentence and almost seemed disappointed that he would not hang, telling reporters: “Well I expected something different. I thought I was going to be hanged. My lawyers are satisfied, though, so I suppose it is all right.”
In Somersworth, people were extremely dissatisfied with the outcome of the trial. Most felt that Kelley deserved to hang for his crime. A secret meeting was held among twenty men of Somersworth, New Hampshire, and Berwick, Maine, to assess the situation. They formulated a plan to kidnap Kelley while still in the Dover jail, and to take him out and lynch him, but they lacked the leadership necessary to execute the plan.
Joseph Kelley was taken quietly to Concord to begin his sentence.
Do the ghosts of doomed lovers haunt a jagged cliff in Hot Springs, North Carolina? Local legend says yes.
The tragic tale goes something like this:
Long ago, a beautiful Cherokee woman named Mist-on-the-Mountain eloped with Magwa, a handsome member of a visiting tribe. However, the happy union didn’t last long. A jealous suitor named Tall Pine murdered Magwa in a fit of rage. Devastated, Mist-on-the-Mountain fled from the scene and hurled herself over a steep cliff overlooking the French Broad River. Now, they say, the doomed lovers haunt the ledge and river below.
An excerpt from the 1906 book Hot Springs, Past and Present describes one group’s eerie encounter at the spot now known as Lover’s Leap.
“Let the unwary traveler beware when the June moon rises, and the flooded river laps at the base of the rock. Three friendly moonshiners once made a rendezvous at the rock on such a night, June 7, 1875. They were taking a little more than their accustomed stimulant as they waited, when suddenly, as the full moon began to rise, the events of that other night so long ago were enacted before their astonished eyes. Again they witnessed the death of Magwa, the wild flight and tragic leap of Mist-on-the-Mountain. In panic, they fled, each man for himself, leaving their jugs behind them, never again to rendezvous in that particular spot.”
Lover’s Leap is along the Appalachian Trail, and thousands of hikers have trekked past the fateful cliff. Earlier this month, my husband and I paid a visit, though heat and killer switchbacks were the only things that troubled us.
Do Mist-on-the-Mountain and Magwa lurk at Lover’s Leap? Though contemporary accounts are rare, the haunting legend lives on. As the author of Hot Springs, Past and Present notes:
“Who can say that the unseen spirits of those lovers do not still haunt that grim rock, the site of their love and death, watching with jealous eyes the careless crowds that come and go.”
BIG BIRD MONSTERS
A curious type of cryptid that has managed to remain pervasive all around the world is that of the flying monster or winged humanoid. Such reports come in from all over the world, and often feature strange creatures that are remarkably similar in appearance. Why this may be is beyond the scope of this article, but there are numerous bird or bat-like beasts that seem to lurk in the dark corners of our planet. One good example of an avian mystery is a massive, seemingly humanoid beast that has long been sighted in the southwest United States, and has managed to elude understanding.
Sprawled out over 4,872 square miles along the northern Rio Grande River in the southernmost tip of South Texas lies the Rio Grande Valley. Once known as El Mágico Valle del Río Grande, or “The Magical Valley of the Rio Grande” by the people of the region, the Rio Grande valley is at once one of the fastest growing regions of the United States and also home to majestic, vast expanses of untamed, unspoiled wilderness, encompassing numerous wildlife refuges and national parks including the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, which draw in droves of tourists and outdoorsmen every year.
It is here in this rugged region that a very strange, avian flying creature has been sighted since at least the 1970s. What has come to be known as the “Big Bird” or sometimes the “Bird Man,” the beast is usually described as being a massive vaguely humanoid bird of some type, with a face reminiscent of a gorilla, a 6-inch long beak, a bald head, and blood-red eyes that are sometimes reported as glowing. In the 1970s there was a spate of sightings of this creature, which started, or was at least thrust into the public consciousness, on January 1, 1976, when 11-year old Tracey Lawson was out playing in the backyard of her home near Harlingen, Texas, along with her 14-year-old cousin, Jackie Davies.
At some point they noticed something very bizarre lurking around 100 yards away near an irrigation canal, which upon observation with binoculars was described as being a “horrible-looking” giant bird around 5 feet in height, with a face like a gorilla, a bald head, and enormous luminous red eyes. The strange beast glared at them for a time and then reportedly let out an unearthly shriek before disappearing from view behind some trees. At first the girls’ parents did not believe them, but the next day Jackie’s stepfather, Tom Waldon, would find unusual three-toed tracks measuring 8 inches across in the area where the creature had been seen. Also strange was that the Lawson family dog, which was usually friendly and rambunctious, began to act very strangely, cowering in its doghouse and refusing to go outside.
The next sighting happened a week later in San Benito, where in the early morning of January 7, two police officers named Arturo Padilla and Homer Galvan saw what they described as a massive bird-like creature around 5 feet tall, with a gorilla-like face, a 12 to 15-foot wingspan, and glowing red eyes. Later that very same day witness Alverico Guajardo spotted the creature near his home in Brownsville. He described it as having somewhat bat-like wings, eyes as big as silver dollars, and possessing a long, thin beak through which it issued a loud, unearthly groan. Guarjardo would tell the Brownsville Herald, “I was scared. It’s got wings like a bird, but it’s not a bird. That animal is not of this world.”
There were other sightings, which I have covered here recently with my Batsquatch episode but will go over here again. For instance, there was the case of brothers David and John Daut, who were driving along a rural road in the Rio Grande Valley when a bat-winged humanoid with a head reminiscent of a wolf and estimated as being 8-10 feet tall landed in front of them, forcing them to screech to a halt. As they tried to back up away from the nightmarish creature, it loped forward as if about to attack, only to alight into the air and fly over them with an audible whooshing of its wings. In another case a father and son claimed to have been out hunting deer in Hidalgo County, near Houston, when the creature had swooped down to grab the father and try to carry him off, with the man only barely managing to escape when the son shot at it with his rifle. The man was apparently left deeply shaken and with broken ribs and nasty talon marks on his body.
Attacks like this seem to have been par for the course with some of these reports. Things took a turn for the truly frightening with a report from January 15, from a man named Armando Grimaldo. The witness claimed that he had been out having a cigarette at his home in Raymondville when he heard a flapping sound and something that sounded vaguely like a strange whistle. When he looked up, he said that an immense bird-like creature with a simian face and leathery skin had clawed at him with its talons, ripping apart his shirt and jacket in the process, and indeed he was found with shredded clothes and in a state of shock by neighbors who had heard his desperate screams for help.
That very same week another man named Francisco Magallanezs reported that he had also been attacked by a giant birdman at Eagle Pass, and doctors confirmed that he had sustained deep scratches by some sort of wild animal. When these scarier reports hit the papers it caused a bit of hysteria, with some people refusing to leave their homes after dark for fear of being attacked by the beast. There were even claims that pets were disappearing and that there were cattle mutilations in the region at the time, further painting a sinister veneer over it all.
Three days later, on January 18 there were two separate sightings of the creature, one by two sisters in Brownsville and another by two soldiers near Poteet. Indeed, sightings of the Big Bird began to come in on an almost a daily basis over the next few weeks, from people of all ages and all walks of life, and the creature started to appear all over the news. One notable sighting was made on February 24th, 1976, when three teachers saw the creature near Harlingen, this time with the interesting detail that they thought it looked similar to the prehistoric flying reptile, the pteranodon. Sometimes the Big Bird was seen multiple times by the same witness, such as is the case with an Alex Resendez, who claimed to have seen it three times and said it had short legs, glassy, black eyes, striped wings, and a translucent beak. He would say of it:
*****You have to look close because his beak is very transparent. If you see it real fast, you’re going to think he ain’t got no beak… I never seen a bird that big. He was brownish, like dirt… He does not have long legs and does not stand like other birds.*****
Big Bird mania got so heated that there were large rewards offered to capture or kill the creature, which drew in hunters looking to cash in. These reckless, money-hungry hunters went out traipsing around the wilderness looking for any big birds to shoot, which made quite a few wildlife conservationists nervous as they believed that the Big Bird could be a large endangered species of bird. During this time there were a few false alarms, such as a mass sighting of the “Big Bird” just south of Alamo, which was filmed and later identified as a blue heron, which is what quite a few skeptics thought people were actually seeing.
Although the sightings eventually died down, they never really did stop altogether, and the monster has been spotted throughout the 70s, 80s, and beyond. One rather terrifying encounter occurred in 1977, when a local woman at Santa Rosa spotted a gigantic bird with black eyes and a face like an old woman in a tree. The creature then flew straight at her, and when she retreated into her home it continued to scratch at the door for some time before being chased away by some neighborhood dogs. The dogs purportedly chased it out of sight, but the next day when the animals did not return searchers found their mangled bodies, torn apart and mutilated by some immensely powerful animal. Since then the creature has been sporadically reported all the way up to today, and has become a persistent local legend in the area, sort of like Nessie at Loch Ness.
It is not even the U.S. side of the Rio Grande that has seen sightings of such a bizarre creature. In one sighting, a man was driving along a remote dirt road near the town of El Tigre, Chihuahua, in Mexico, and was startled when a giant bird passed right over his vehicle, after which it continued to make relentless passes at him. On one of these passes it allegedly smashed into the windshield and fell to the road, and the witness ran it over. When he looked into his rear-view mirror he reportedly saw it get back up as if it was nothing and fly off into the night.
Interestingly enough, the Rio Grande region on the south of the border has long had legends and sightings of a creature that seems very similar to what has been seen in Texas. Locals of northern Mexico and the Rio Grande of Texas have long spoken of a giant bird creature which they call La Lechuza, that can supposedly stand up to 7 feet high and have a wingspan of 15 feet or more. Often described as looking like an oversized owl or raven, La Lechuza can be black or white, and is often said to have a face like that of an old woman. The creature is most often seen as being a part of local folklore, where it is depicted as a vengeful supernatural spirit that feeds off of negative emotions and kidnaps children to eat, but there have been actual sightings of these things in the area for centuries. Could this have anything to do with the Big Bird sightings?
Besides magical Mexican spirits, there has been much speculation as to what the creature could be, with most skeptics saying it is nothing more than some large species of bird like a stork or heron, and there have been cases of exotic out of place specimens of a type of Central American stork called the jabiru in the Rio Grande region. The jabiru is certainly imposing enough to be mistaken for the beast, which can stand 5 feet tall and have a wingspan of around 10 feet and interestingly also has a featherless head, which fits into reports of Big Bird having a bald head. It also looks suitably eerie enough to perhaps generate reports of something strange for those who have never seen one before.
However, it is hard to see how any stork or heron could possibly be mistaken for having an ape-like face, vicious talons, or glowing red eyes, and reports mentioning short legs on the mystery monster do not match either. Storks and herons don’t typically attack humans either. So what else could it be? More mysterious explanations have mentioned that it could be some new species, aliens, inter-dimensional beings, or even the infamous, enigmatic Mothman. Then there is the possibility that this is all just an urban legend based on hoaxes and lies, but that would be strange considering the wealth of reliable witnesses who have claimed to have seen it, including two police officers.
So what are we dealing with here? These creatures have been spotted all over the Rio Grande by witnesses of all ages and all walks of life. Are they all just making things up or misidentifying normal birds? Or is this something weirder? Are these visitors from some other plane of existence, perhaps trickster spirits having some fun at our expense? Whatever the case may be, the Birdmen or Bid Bird of the Rio Grande has continued to be featured heavily in the cryptozoological and paranormal lore of the area, and looks likely to remain that way for some time to come.
Bhangarh Fort is known as the most haunted place in India, and perhaps the greatest unsolved mystery. There is no doubting the fact that anything associated with the supernatural attracts a huge amount of attention and the deserted city of Bhangarh cashes in on that very idea. The many haunted stories of Bhangarh Fort have transformed it into a bucket list destination of sorts.
Curious travellers come in order to experience cheap thrills and while some go back disappointed, others simply cannot have enough of the suspense associated with the story of the Bhangarh Fort. If you happen to be one of those inquisitive travellers, it is imperative for you to visit this place and find out for yourself.
Most people are of the belief that Bhangarh Fort is haunted and there is no dearth of tales that help in amplifying the mystery that is Bhangarh. Venturing into the fort after sunset is nothing short of an act of bravery as it is supposed to be a centre for paranormal activity and the Archaelogical Survey of India therefore has prohibited people from visiting the Bhangarh Fort at night.
Of the many Bhangarh stories that the locals like to indulge in, the most popular is that of Emperor Madho Singh who built the city after attaining the approval of Guru Balu Nath, an ascetic who used to meditate there. The saint gave his approval on the condition that the shadow of the Emperor’s palace should never fall on his retreat.
If in case it did, the city would crumble into ruins. Once the construction was completed, the retreat of Guru Balu was unfortunately shadowed by the palace. Having incurred the saint’s wrath, Bhangarh immediately transformed into a cursed city and could never be rebuilt as no structures ever managed to survive in it. It is interesting to note that the tomb of Guru Balu Nath can still be found among the ruins.
Another Bhangarh Fort story pertains to Princess Ratnavati. According to legends, her beauty was nonpareil and stories of her surpassing physical attractiveness even transcended kingdoms and borders. When she turned eighteen, suitors from several states asked for her hand in marriage. Of all these suitors was a sorcerer named Singhia who was aware of the fact that he was no match for the princess. However, he decided to entice her with the magical powers he possessed.
He was lucky enough to see Princess Ratnavati’s mistress in the market and enchanted the oil she was purchasing with black magic. He was of the hope that the princess would surrender herself to him upon touching the oil. However, his attempt was futile as Ratnavati witnessed his trick and poured the oil on the ground which then morphed into a rock, rolled towards the magician and crushed him.
Before dying, Singhia cursed the city of Bhangarh to death and as a result, it never witnessed any rebirths. Moreover, in the battle between Ajabgarh and Bhangarh, princess Ratnavati was killed, thus adding more weight to his malediction. Hopes, however, never die as several locals are of the belief that she has returned in a different form and will ultimately come back to end the unfortunate spell on Bhangarh.
While Bhangarh fort story has been rubbished by scientists, nothing stops the villagers from believing that it is a sanctuary for ghosts. People have supposedly often heard noises that are unaccounted for. The locals claim to have heard women screaming and crying, bangles breaking and strange music emerging from the fort. There have been instances where a special perfume was emanating from the Bhangarh Fort along with ghostly shadows and inexplicable lights. Some people have felt the strange sensation of being followed and even slapped by an invisible entity. It is believed that if a person enters the fort after sunset, he/she will never ever come out of it. The doors are therefore always locked after dusk and entry into the Bhangarh Fort at night is absolutely forbidden. Are all of the Bhangarh Fort stories factual or just strange pieces of fiction? Is the Bhangarh Fort really haunted? Nobody can say. Except maybe ghost hunters.
SICKENING STRANGE SOUNDS
It was a medical mystery that began in 2016, involving U.S. Embassy employees and a number of other Americans stationed in Havana, Cuba, that began falling ill.
Now, half a world away in Guangzhou, China, the U.S. State Department says they have evacuated two more employees who appear to have been stricken with symptoms remarkably similar to those that surfaced in Cuba more than a year ago. While theories exist as to the cause of the mysterious “sickness,” it remains undetermined what, precisely, the true cause may be.
The latest spate of illnesses was reported earlier this week, when two adult employees at the American Consulate in Guangzhou, south China, were evacuated after displaying “neurological symptoms,” the New York Times reported. Symptoms of the odd ailment that began to affect U.S. employees in Havana, Cuba in 2016 include hearing loss, nausea, disorientation, and a host of other conditions.
All of those affected report one thing in common: that they heard “strange sounds” prior to exhibiting symptoms of the mystery illness.
Concern over the cause of the strange illness led to accusations against Cuban authorities, with the allegation that they might have employed monitoring equipment covertly which had an adverse effect on those nearby. However, with reports of the strange “sound sickness” now stemming from the U.S. Consulate in southern China, U.S. officials are reportedly concerned that another foreign power–possibly Russia–may be involved.
Following the initial round of incidents, the State Department warned its employees about “any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises,” and further directed those who experienced the phenomena, “do not attempt to locate their source.” While the cause of the noises–and the neurological symptoms reported in conjunction with them–remain unknown, even former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to the incidents as “attacks.” Tillerson’s successor, Mike Pompeo, has used similar language in relation to the incidents, noting the similarity to the 2016-2017 Cuban incidents and those which began to occur in China back in April.
A study which looked into the cause of the alleged “attacks” that occurred in Havana, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found “persistent cognitive, vestibular, and oculomotor dysfunction, as well as sleep impairment and headaches, were observed among US government personnel in Havana, Cuba, associated with reports of directional audible and/or sensory phenomena of unclear origin.”
The report also noted in its conclusion that, “These individuals appeared to have sustained injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma.” The study was carried out at University of Pennsylvania Medical School’s Center for Brain Injury and Repair earlier this year.
Washington Post reported on skepticism that now surrounds the aforementioned study, noting that, “doctors detected no clear physical origin in the brain: Eighteen of the 21 patients showed nothing unusual on a brain scan, and the other three had “mild” or “moderate” damage to white matter that the investigators acknowledged could be due to preexisting disease processes.”
Perhaps one of the most searing criticisms of the Pennsylvania study was issued by Robert McIntosh, Ph.D. and Sergio Della Sala, MD, Ph.D. of theUniversity of Edinburgh, who wrote in The Psychologist that, “We should be much more worried about reputational damage to neuropsychology, and psychology in general, than about any sinister new sonic weapons.”
In a statement issued by University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School, they noted they are “continuing to work with the Department of State to evaluate and treat personnel who have reported audible phenomena experiences,” further noting they are “not able to provide specifics about different patient groups at this time.”
To date, everything from the insinuation of mysterious “sonic weapons” to Jamaican field crickets (seriously) have been suggested as possible sources for the strange, sickening noises. However, with the new reports of Americans who fell ill under remarkably similar circumstances in Guangzhou, China, could we end up seeing the results of the Penn State report being vindicated after all?
I have been a medium since I can remember and my first encounter was when I was about 6 years old. I had a nightmare, so I was going to go into my parents room. When I reached the hallway I saw a woman, with long dark hair and a flowing white dress. She was staring into my parents bed room. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing I rubbed my eyes and when I looked at her again she turned and smiled at me, the way a loving mother would smile at a child. I didn’t know what to do, I charged down the hall waving my hands in front of me and just before I would have touched her she vanished. I woke up my mom, who told me it was a dream and to go to sleep. The next morning, knowing full well that it wasn’t a dream as my mom had said, I went to investigate the spot where the woman was standing. In that spot I found a single, small white feather. When I was little, and being a medium, I thought she was a ghost. Now I believe that I saw a guardian angel, as it was a few weeks later that my parents go into a car accident on the interstate where they were hit head on. She knew I needed my parents and it wasn’t their time to go, she was protecting them. After finding that feather, I will always be a believer… After all, seeing is believing.
TESLA’S DEATH RAY
On June 30th, 1908, a giant explosion flattened over 800sq miles of forest near the Tunguska river in Siberian Russia.
The area of the blast was extremely remote, but the devastation was immense. An estimated 80 million trees were flattened and whole herds of deer wiped out.
The magnitude of the blast was thousands of times greater than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima and its impact was felt as far afield as Great Britain.
Had it occurred just minutes later it would have destroyed the whole of St Petersburg and killed millions of people.
Whilst it quickly became apparent something momentous had happened at Tunguska, the area of the blast remained inaccessible until the first expedition there in 1927.
The 1927 investigation began nearly a century of debate about what caused the blast, with explanations ranging from comets and meteors to expulsions of natural gas and even mini black holes.
One of the alternative theories about Tunguska revolves around pioneering inventor Nikola Tesla.
Tesla was a scientific genius credited with several important innovations in electricity, magnetism and radio. For many years, he explored ideas for the wireless transmission of electricity.
In 1901, he began construction of the 57m high Wardenclyffe tower in New York. Ostensibly for telegraphy, he used the tower to further his experiments into the transmission of electricity.
But by 1906, his chief financial backer JP Morgan grew dissatisfied with Tesla’s experiments and withdrew funding. Tesla’s plans were in ruin, he became desperate and, according to biographers, suffered a nervous breakdown.
It has been suggested that Tesla tried to salvage his work at Wardenclyffe and revive his fortunes by staging an audacious publicity stunt.
Tesla had become convinced his wireless electricity transmitter could be used as a weapon — able to transmit an electrical wave through the Earth of such intensity it could destroy a target hundreds of miles away.
Like the rest of America, Tesla was gripped by the exploits of Admiral Robert Peary and his assault on the North Pole. At the time of the Tunguska blast in 1908, Peary was camped out at Ellesmere Island in preparation for his bid to reach the pole.
Tesla had made cryptic remarks about contacting Peary somehow and had instructed him to watch the tundra for ‘signals’.
What better way for Tesla to demonstrate the awesome power of his device to the world than to fire a bolt of energy towards Ellesemere and rip up some ice or cause a light show?
Advocates of the theory that Tesla was behind the Tunguska blast claim his publicity stunt went drastically wrong, his concentrated wave of electricity overshooting its target and instead causing the explosion at Tunguska.
Could Tesla really have been responsible for the Tunguska blast?
The idea of death rays was very prevalent around the time of Tunguska. Several inventors, notably Harry Grindell Matthews in England, claimed to have invented such a weapon.
In 1907, there was much speculation in the press that the explosion that destroyed French battleship Iena in March was caused by some kind of wireless energy wave, with Tesla’s name even mentioned in connection with the disaster.
Tesla himself gave rise to much of the speculation by repeatedly claiming his electricity transmission device could be used as a directed energy weapon.
Writing to Liberty magazine he explained — “My invention requires a large plant, but once it is established it will be possible to destroy anything, men or machines, approaching within a radius of 200 miles.”
Tesla wrote several letters to the New York Times in which he expanded on the potential of his invention as a death ray.
“As to projecting wave energy to any particular region of the globe…this can be done by my devices…the spot at which the desired effect is to be produced can be calculated very closely, assuming the accepted terrestrial measurements to be correct.”
Just 2 months before Tunguska, he wrote tellingly — “This is not a dream. Even now wireless power plants could be constructed by which any region of the globe might be rendered uninhabitable without subjecting the population of other parts to serious danger or inconvenience.”
Did Tesla, beset by financial problems and desperate for his Wardenclyffe plant to succeed, use it for precisely the purpose he described to the New York Times?
Although the prevailing consensus as to the cause of the Tunguska blast is the explosion of a comet or meteorite in the atmosphere above the area, there are numerous reasons to doubt this.
Several eyewitness reports describe unusual and prolonged lights in the sky, both before and for days after the impact, quite unlike those to be expected from a meteorite or comet.
Even as far afield as England, the sky was lit up for days afterwards. Widespread reports of night turning into day flooded into the newspapers. One correspondent recounted how he was able to read a book illuminated purely by the night sky.
Tesla specifically cited the ability of Wardenclyffe to light up the atmosphere on several occasions — “I have planned many details of a plant which would be amply sufficient to illuminate the entire ocean so that such a disaster as that of the Titanic would not be repeated.”
Many of the eyewitnesses also describe earth shaking, even before the explosion. Again, Tesla described how his device could shake the ground, even boasting on one occasion that he could shake the Empire State building to its foundations.
The meteorite theory is also undermined by the fact that no blast crater or trace of any meteorite had ever been found, despite exhaustive searches.
If, however, Tesla really could transmit a directed energy beam through the ground, it would leave no traces or crater.
It has been pointed out that a line drawn between Tesla’s Wardenclyffe tower and Tunguska passes through the location of the supposed target of his energy beam — Ellesmere Island.
Whilst the correlation isn’t exact, it is an interesting coincidence. Did Tesla, intending to shake up the ice at Ellesmere overshoot his target and accidently cause the devastation at Tunguska?
The concept that electricity could be wirelessly transmitted over long distance is now discounted as pseudoscience by most scientists.
Whereas Tesla did successfully demonstrate short-range transmission of electricity, he was never able to demonstrate any ability to transmit it over great distances.
Tesla, always desperate for an audience for his inventions, would have widely advertised the technology if he had really perfected it as he claimed.
Tesla was a very eccentric individual. He had visions, claimed to receive signals from extraterrestrials and somewhat oddly was in love with a pigeon.
He was also an inveterate self-publicist notorious for making far fetched and exaggerated claims which he could not back up. For example he once claimed he could fire an energy beam at the moon and disturb its surface.
There have been many attempts to produce the kind of death ray proposed by Tesla over the years, but no such weapon has ever been produced, despite its obvious military application.
The vast amount of energy Tesla’s death ray would require to operate as he boasted would appear to rule it out as any kind of viable device.
It is estimated that to produce the estimated 10 megaton blast recorded at Tunguska, Wardenclyffe would need transmit billions of watts worth of power — thousands of times more than the New York power grid he relied on was capable of producing.